Monday, May 31, 2010

Chipper Jones Still Effective

Chipper Jones is off to a disappointing start for the Atlanta Braves this season, but he can still contribute winning baseball.

Going into today's game, he has a .243 batting average, two home runs and a .756 OPS. His OPS+ is 106 so by definition he is an above average hitter. The catch: his on base percentage is .399.

The problem, as outlined in today's box score, is that he is batting third while Jason Heyward is batting second. Batting order is usually designed for the first inning because in the first inning we know who will bat first, second and third. In later innings, it becomes jumbled. Heyward gets on base AND hits for power. His slash stats are .299/.419/.592. I think it's time manager Bobby Cox flips Jones and Heyward in the batting order so Heyward can drive Jones in.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ivan Rodriguez: True Yankee

ESPN ran a story on its Web site several years ago about a True Yankee. I think the concept is ridiculous because it is synonymous with winning and having a big hit. Despite posting two MVP seasons, Alex Rodriguez wasn't even in the discussion of True Yankee until last season when he had another great, albeit in an injury plagued, season, a dominating post season and a World Series ring. Yet a monster 27-game season followed up with a decent enough post season and a World Series ring put Shane Spencer into True Yankee status after his 1998 season.

With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to kind of pick at this notion of True Yankee. I introduce Ivan Rodriguez: True Yankee.

Ivan Rodriguez is a Hall of Fame quality catcher who had a great run with the Texas Rangers from 1991 till 2002. He won an MVP in 1999 and made All-Star appearances from 1992 till 2001. He signed with the Florida Marlins in 2003 and helped them win a World Series over the New York Yankees. He then latched on to the Detroit Tigers in 2004 and put up his last great season posting a .334/.383/.510 line.

Rodriguez briefly played for the New York Yankees in the 2008 season. He played 33 games (101 plate appearances) and posted a .219/.257/.323 slash stats line with 2 home runs and a 51 OPS+. Yes, we're talking only 33 games, but he hadn't posted an OPS+ above 100 since 2004. He was so bad that Jose Molina got a majority of the starts. Coincidentally, Molina in 100 games (297 plate appearances) posted a 51 OPS+. It's always nice when you can get that kind of consistent play among your catchers.

Rodriguez then signed with the Houston Astros and was later traded back to the Texas Rangers in the 2009 season. Combined, he posted a .249/.280/.384 line and a 73 OPS+. He's retired, right? Nope. The Washington Nationals signed him to a two year $6 million contract last off season. If the previous five seasons of average to horrendous play weren't any indicators, the Nationals figured that he could get things figured out as he turns 39 this season and 40 next season. So far, in 31 games and 119 plate appearances, he has posted a respectable .333/.356/.441 line and a 112 OPS+. He should retire now. Ivan Rodriguez: A True National.